Vietnam Proves China Succeeds in Making ASEAN Retract Call for Respect of Hague RulingPosted: July 2, 2016
In my post “China Makes ASEAN Refrain from Asking It to Respect Arbitration Award” on June 16, I said, “ASEAN’s attitude towards the ruling of Hague arbitration initiated by the Philippines is very important. If ASEAN does not support US demand that China respects the arbitration ruling, US and Western countries’ demand becomes groundless as they are outsiders without a say unless ASEAN in the South China Sea has raised such a demand.”
The declaration of ASEAN-U.S. Special Leaders’ Summit at Sunnylands in mid-February says that ASEAN and US leaders “(s)hared commitment to peaceful resolution of disputes, including full respect for legal and diplomatic processes (this blogger’s emphasis)”, which certainly includes full respect of Hague arbitration ruling.
That is why Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi had a meeting in mid-June with his ASEAN counterparts in China to try to persuade them to retract their support for US demand.
ASEAN issued and then retracted its statement after its meeting with Wang to please China. That makes me believe that Wang has succeeded in making ASEAN retract their support for US demand for full respect of Hague arbitration ruling.
Reuters’ report today titled “Vietnam urges ‘fair’ ruling from court handling South China Sea case Today” on Vietnam’s stance on the ruling proves my speculation. Reuters says, “Vietnam’s statement stopped short of calling for the ruling to be respected” though Vietnam will be the major ASEAN member to be benefited by the ruling. Obviously, Vietnam does not want to retract from ASEAN’s consensus on retracting its support for US demand that it has reached in its diplomats’ recent meeting with their Chinese counterpart Wang Yi.
Without ASEAN’s support for US demand for full respect of the ruling, China will not have much trouble if the ruling is unfavorable to China.
Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Reuters’ report, full text of which can be viewed below:
Vietnam urges ‘fair’ ruling from court handling South China Sea case
Vietnam has called for an international tribunal in The Hague to deliver a “fair and objective” ruling in an arbitration case lodged by the Philippines that challenges China’s expansive claims in the South China Sea.
In a carefully worded statement two days after the court announced July 12 as the verdict date, Vietnam’s foreign ministry said it hoped the ruling would provide a basis for peacefully resolving rows.
Vietnam is not a direct party to the case but stands to gain if the verdict favors Manila. Like the Philippines, it is also at odds with China, although it is wary not to push too far against a major trade partner.
“Vietnam has always been observing the development of the case and wants the arbitration court to deliver a fair and objective decision, creating a basis to peacefully resolve disputes in the (South China Sea),” Vietnam’s foreign ministry spokesman, Le Hai Binh, said in a statement late on Friday.
Though the wording was similar to those used by numerous countries, Vietnam’s statement stopped short of calling for the ruling to be respected.
China has gone to great efforts to show the Permanent Court of Arbitration has no jurisdiction on the case, and Beijing will therefore not recognize it. China’s official Xinhua news agency called it a “law-abusing tribunal”.
The case seeks an interpretation of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), to which Beijing is a signatory.
The South China Sea is one of the world’s most vital shipping lanes, with about $5 trillion of goods passing annually through waters contested in parts by six countries, several of which are undergoing military buildups.
(Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Martin Petty)